What the future may hold for hydroponics.
~ This blog entry by GE speaks with Japanese farmer and plant physiologist Shigeharu Shimamura regarding the developments of LED lighting used for indoor plant farming.
Over the past 10,000 years, humans have spent time mastering agriculture, but natural occurrences such as drought or storms can completely destroy a newly planted harvest.
Not anymore, says Shigeharu, who has moved into an industrial scale farming facility, totally indoors using LED grow lights that emit special wavelengths of light to stimulate and increase plant growth.
The special LED fixtures were developed by global leader in LED lighting, GE, and installed into the world’s largest indoor farm which was a former Sony Corporation semiconductor factory.
The indoor LED lit farm is almost half the size of a soccer field (2322 square metres) and having just opened in July it is already producing 10,000 heads of lettuce per day.
Shimamura says: “I knew how to grow good vegetables biologically and I wanted to integrate that knowledge with hardware”.
The facility uses 17,500 high power LED lights spread over 18 cultivation racks reaching 15 levels high. The LED grow lights are the unique key ingredient in the farm’s magic. Using the LEDs allows the facility to control the day and night cycles accelerating the growth significantly.
By controlling temperature, humidity and irrigation the farm also cuts it’s water bills down to just 1 percent of the amount required by traditional outdoor fields.
As a result of these efficiencies, the discarded produce has been reduced from 50 percent to just 10 percent of the harvest, and increasing the farms productivity per square foot 100-fold.
The LED lights used are a combination of red, blue and white lights to stimulate the plants. GE engineers used proprietary technology to make the lights thin enough to fit inside the stacks as well as providing uniform light and endurance against the high humidity. That way they were able to increase the amount of plants being grown significantly for the space they occupied.
“Finally, we are about to start the real agricultural industrialisation” says Shimamura. Perfecting the ability to grow foods at significantly increased rates could be key to solving food shortages across the world.
Lighting Matters recently created a similar proof of concept test by simply using 60 watts of 80 percent red LED strip and 20 percent blue LED strips attached on a piece of melamine board. The project over 3 weeks saw significant plant growth of cos lettuce and roma tomatoes under the LEDs compared to the outdoor planted seedlings that began to sprout weeks after the induced growth from the LED strip lights.
Source for this news item is: here